It’s been a bit quiet for us of late. Too cold, too blowy, lack of birds. And hot chocolate at home…Yum!
We had been at Point Cook Coastal Park a couple of weeks back. Looking for Flame Robins—not too many, unfortunately—and EE’s Sea Eagle, (hers by virtue of she saw it first, not that any would be surprised).
By the time we had arrived there was a pretty stiff Southerly breeze at work, making walking challenging for EE and Dolly. However we found a sheltered spot at the beach, and opted for a cuppa and snack, and while we sat contemplating no Sea Eagle, Robins, nor Cormorants, (somewhat in that order of importance), a large mixed flock of sea birds arrived just about in front of us.
No doubt a school of fish was running along the edge of the sandbank a few hundred metres out. Outstanding among them was 25-30 Australasian Gannets. It’s really only on a Southerly that we see these birds in so close, so it was a bit of a treat to watch their controlled dives. A large number of seagulls and cormorants were also along for the feast and quite a few Greater Crested Terns.
Unfortunately for photography, they were just that little too far out, and mostly swung round into the breeze for lift off, which meant very few close passes. As it happened, however, I had packed in the Teleconverter, TC 1.4, so it gave me a little more reach with the 500mm.
Still for all that, all these images are huge crops from the D500. But it does reinforce what I’ve said previously about the lens. It does focus well, beyond the somewhat limited 30m or so of the cheaper tele/zooms.
Eventually the fish moved further out and up the bay, so we settled back to our now cold cuppas and enjoyed the action from a distance.
Made up for the lack of other special guests that day.
As our younger girl grew up, the group U2 were a constant source of music enjoyment in the house.
And as I hit number 40 for the Saturday Evening Post, I thought I’d quote from one of U2’s music would be a bit special.
Lots of interesting anecdotes about the piece, but I’ve always liked Bono’s statement, “We wrote it in 10 minutes, played in in 10 minutes, recorded it in 10 minutes, mixed it in 10 minutes, but that has nothing do with with why its called 40. (How Long!)
Rainbow Lorikeets are among some of the brightest, and most active little clowns that frequent the trees where we live. They can always be counted on to come up with a new wing flap, expression, act, or even song to entertain.
I have no idea what this one was upto, but its mate was on the branch next door, and for some reason, lots of big wing flaps were needed to emphasise the importance of some point of communication. I managed to get it right on the end of the outward stroke.
“Many will See, Many will See and Hear” (40, How Long)
Photography is one of those great expressive mediums that, unlike, say, painting, words, sculpture or dance, to name a few, relies on the moment. At the press of the shutter, the motif is set. An author can rework a sentence, paragraph, chapter or even a complete manuscript. Painters leave in, or add in necessary parts of the subject to provide just the right story.
Famed street photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, —HCB—(he was much more than that), coined a term “The Decisive Moment”. Often quoted in photo blogs, books, magazines and the like, (including this one it seems), yet rarely understood in the context with which he gave it life.
Here’s a good working definition:
“The decisive moment refers to capturing an event that is ephemeral and spontaneous, where the image represents the essence of the event itself.”
As Captain Barbosa in “Pirates of the Caribbean” says, ” There be lots of long words in there, and we’re naught but humble pirates.”
Reams have been written, and great theses developed to explain what HCB might or might not have meant.
He also said, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”
and then this, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
That sounds more like my bird photography in the field.
It’s been quite awhile, since we’ve been able to find, let alone work with Eastern Yellow Robins, but EE’s perseverance hung out again this past week, and we managed a few minutes in the You Yangs with an active feeding bird.
After several relocations and changes in light, I was getting a feel to the actions of the bird.
And because of the morning light getting a reasonable balance of fore and background from the hard light was a challenge. Find bird in viewfinder, move about for best background.
Then it landed on a single upright branch. After several shots against dark and light backdrops I settled on the light on dark approach, and the bird turned into the lighter side. I waited. And then almost imperceptibly, the ‘significance of an event’ occurred as the bird bobbed as it lined up the next meal, and then slid of the perch.
We went to a BirdLife Werribee, (formerly Werribee Wagtails) monthly outing that included an afternoon at Serendip Sanctuary.
It’s a fairly close park for us, and we visit several times a year, and if the granndies turn up, it’s a day out in the field, but on formed tracks, and things to do, so makes a pleasing family day. And it’s quite close to Lara Village and a certain Routley’s Bakery Pie shop. Which proved too much of a draw for Mr An Onymous and me, so we stopped off for lunch on the way through.
Furphy’s Ale and beef for him. Tandoori lamb for self.
I’m always a bit uneasy about photographing in an enclosed sanctuary area. It’s not a matter of ethics—per se—but, rather always seems to me a less challenging experience than working with the birds in the field. After all, the kangaroos have already seen a 1,000 tourists this week, so you are not exactly interesting. They also know, people stay on the tracks, yell a lot, and move on. Some even wave, point fones at themselves and ‘whatever animal is that in the background?’ selfies abound.
So truth be told I normally wander through the area ohh and ahh appropriately, try not to get upset when someone points at a Tawny Frogmouth and says, “Oh, look, what a cute little owl!” and enjoy others enjoying their wildlife experience. (I’m not a spoil sport entirely!!!)
However it seems I’m mellowing with age. 😉
After so many trips, I’ve come to respect the locals. In their locality. Not only the ones in enclosures, but also the ‘visitors’, that have stayed on as Star Boarders. Quite a lot of the bird life is free on the wing and come and go as the season dictates. Others, for various reasons, including breeding programmes, are permanent.
And, what I’ve discovered from all that is I’m not so fussed about the lack of challenge, and much more interested in the closeup portrait. The challenge for me is working with the bird for the right setting/location/lighting and then allowing them the freedom to move about unstressed. A humbling experience, but really has given me a feel of involvement with them as individuals. So much so that I look forward to being in their area, and hoping I’ll be able to make the best of the moments they share.
Of special interest to me is a pair of Cape Barren Geese. These big birds have settled in to make Serendip their home territory, and with ready provided food, can you blame them. It’s nesting time right now. One enterprising pair have made a nest site among some downed branches and scrub, not more than 5 metres from the main walking track. I spotted him first, and as he paced back and forth as people went by, I wondered, “Where is you mate”, and then I saw her. All tucked up in her ‘secure’ haven.
The rest of the Wagtails tour/ensemble, moved on. I sat down with the pair for about 10 minutes. Now a sitting goose doesn’t do a lot. Yet, the warm image of ‘mum’ raising her young, is such a classical performance.
Choughness, as this blog has often commented is a joy and delight to behold, especially as we don’t know the rules.
Inside the enclosure with the Brolga, there is a feeding station about brolga height. But rather attractive to your passing White-winged Chough. Except, they don’t have a good ‘hovering-flying’ technique, and so couldn’t access the food by sitting on the edge of the feeder. No where for them to attach.
Coughness is never defeated by such mere challenges. So bend down, spring up on uncoiled legs, flap once to get direction, sail into the open feeder, grab a beak full and use those same wings to flutter back to the ground. Innovation at its best.
There is a bird enclose that houses quite a number of birds in a fly aviary.
Interestingly Buff-banded Rails are there in good numbers, and often Freckled ducks. One of the rails that I saw was quite white, so it must be a leucistic (the cells don’t have the ability to make colour).
And while I was there admiring that ‘Cute little owl’ (ggrrrr- it’s a Tawny Frogmouth!!!!), a pair of King Parrot turned up for a looksee at why wasn’t I walking through, yelling, pointing, and waving a fone about. Thanks Mrs King, a lovely portrait session.
A day at Serendip is always a good experience with the birds, and now I’ve discovered my new friendships with them, I’ll look forward to the next trip to enjoy the photography of them as individuals, and find ways to express their character in a much more sympathetic manner.